There are special jury
focus groups and other special jury simulations that are planned and designed
specifically to test a particular trial variable or variables - the most effective voir dire questions, the case's true settlement value, the effect of
a particular witness's testimony, and so on. What special jury focus group
or jury simulation format works best to determine the right trial theme?
and organizing more than 14,000 jury focus groups and jury simulations during
the past 15 years, our firm has determined that one specific surrogate jury
research format - the "interactive" focus group - works best to test trial themes.
jury focus group is organized on an informal basis to encourage the surrogate
jurors' full and open participation and interaction. The surrogate jurors
can sit, stand, or move about as they desire, hors d'oeuvres and other
refreshments are available, and the overall setting is kept as casual as possible
to promote a relaxed "social-type" ambience. (An ideal setting for the "interactive"
focus group is a hotel suite with one or more sofas and numerous easy chairs.)
Both sides of
the case are presented during the focus group proceedings, followed immediately
by comprehensive deliberations among the surrogate jurors. A behavioral scientist
is present to stimulate but in no way lead these deliberations. His or her
primary goal is to keep the discussion focused on what the surrogate jurors
determine to be the basic issues of the case.
jurors are subtly encouraged to simplify the case - to break it down into its
fundamental components and issues. They are further encouraged to develop
answers for some essential questions: What is the significance of the case?
What is it all about? What is its underlying message? What word of phrase
best describes the case and brings it all together? What is its theme?
to a professional analysis of the group's deliberations, each surrogate juror
is interviewed privately to determine his or her attitudes concerning the
basic issues of the case. These individual responses are evaluated psychometrically
(the methodology for quantifying mental and other subjective data) vis-ˆ-vis the various trial themes being investigated and/or tested; and each individual
response is again measured psychometrically against the surrogate jury's group deliberations concerning the theme of the case as they envision it.
highly focused investigatory process, the basic theme for the case clearly
emerges. This special "interactive" focus group testing is then repeated again
and again with different sets of surrogate jurors to ensure the validity of
the results as established - i.e., the trial theme guaranteed to achieve the widest latitude of acceptance with potential jurors.
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